Colorado Mesa University head coach Chuck Pipher had, on Feb. 11, reminded media members via e-mail that 1,983 spectators had witnessed the exciting ‘Battle in Brownson.’
Fortunately he specified that the event’s nickname referred to his squad defeating nearby Western State Colorado University from Gunnison; with the amount of décor still accentuating CMU’s Brownson Arena on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 13 and 14, fans attending the Class 2A-Region I Wrestling Championships could have thought a truce between the Mavericks and Mountaineers had been broken.
Nonetheless, grapplers from 14 teams, representing 15 of CHSAA’s smaller member schools, took to the NCAA Division II program’s mats to decide which individuals – four per weight – would see their seasons continue into the 2015 campaign’s final weekend and the State Championships in Denver.
And in helping Ignacio rack up a fifth-place 137 points, five Bobcats scored the honor of representing the red-black-and-white inside Pepsi Center before the largest crowds in Colorado prep sports.
Senior heavyweight Josh Gallegos (22-5) roared his way into his division’s finale with a pin of Hotchkiss sophomore Conner Collins, and saved enough for a 1-0 defeat of Meeker sophomore Tyler Ilgen to become IHS’ third Region I king – after senior 152-pounder Iaasic Pena and sophomore 113-pounder Stocker Robbins.
Pena (31-5) won his title by injury default over MHS sophomore Casey Turner, while Robbins (33-2) stuck Paonia freshman Clay Campbell 1:23 into the third period of their meeting.
Defeated earlier on Day 2, 11-4, by Dove Creek’s Chance Randolph, sophomore Ethan Appenzeller (32-8) recovered to take care of Norwood/Nucla’s Aiden Dabal by an 8-1 margin to save third place (Dabal, a freshman, later survived a wrestleback against HHS’ Mitch McCurdy to officially take fourth) at 138 pounds.
Senior Blaine Mickey (14-11) wasn’t as fortunate in the third-place match at 182, losing to MHS junior Devon Pontine by 14-4 major decision, but faced no wrestleback challenge with the Mile High City trip at stake.
Classmate Alex Lopez, however, was a casualty of the last-chance system. PHS senior Chase Park had forfeited to HHS senior Tristen Todd in the 220-pounders’ third-place match, allowing Lopez a shot – against Park – at extending his last season at least another work week.
But in contributing to the Eagles’ regional-best 219 points, Park eliminated Lopez 7 to 5, and Lopez (10-15) ended up fifth via a forfeit win over Hayden junior Hunter Rummel.
Sophomore 145-pounder Lorenzo Pena, back in action with one knee braced and padded, also ended in fifth place, as did senior Mike Perez at 160. Junior Tyler Beebe placed sixth at 132 pounds.
Hotchkiss amassed 189.5 points to take second, with Meeker (183) and the San Juan Basin League’s Norwood/Nucla (180) collective bridging the gap in the team standings back to Ignacio – which had held down the classification’s No. 8 spot in the On The Mat rankings heading into the event. PHS, guided by Pipher’s brother Andy, topped the table, with N/N rated second best, Meeker the No. 3 and HHS the No. 10.
Bringing the 80th season of CHSAA-sanctioned wrestling to a close, the State Championships began Thursday, Feb. 19, with Classes 2A and 3A weighing in at 11:30 a.m., then starting their preliminary rounds at 3 p.m. Day 2 action was to begin at 10 a.m., with second-round consolation competition following later at 5:45 p.m. and the semifinals then at 7:15.
Day 3, Feb. 21, will get underway at 10:30 a.m. with third-round consolation matches, and consolation semifinals immediately following as mats become available. The fifth-place matches will begin at 2 p.m., with third-place pairings to follow as soon as possible. The Parade of Champions, presenting the top two in each weight before each duo gets down to first-place business, is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
2A-REGION I STANDINGS: 1.Paonia 219, 2.Hotchkiss 189.5, 3.Meeker 183, 4.Norwood/Nucla 180, 5.IGNACIO 137, 6.Hayden 118.5, 7.Dove Creek 92, 8.Cedaredge 90; 9.Dolores 65.5, 10.Walden North Park 30.5, 11.Rangely 20, 12.Kremmling West Grand 7, 13.Mancos 2, 14.Oak Creek Soroco 0.
2A-REGION I CHAMPIONS: 106 – Brandon Ward, Dolores; 113 – STOCKER ROBBINS, IGNACIO; 120 – Talon Harris, Norwood/Nucla; 126 – Jesse Reed, Paonia; 132 – Austin Todd, Hotchkiss; 138 – Bo Pipher, Paonia; 145 – Gunnar Chesnik, Paonia; 152 – IAASIC PENA, IGNACIO; 160 – Zach Milner, Paonia; 170 – T.J. Shelton, Meeker; 182 – Logan Schopp, Paonia; 195 – Trevor Smith, Paonia; 220 – Adrian Cereceres, Walden North Park; HWT – JOSH GALLEGOS, IGNACIO.